Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We Are All Teachers Now

In what ways is working on Wall Street like being an educator or other public worker these days? Here are some quotes from a Politico article.

“Most Wall Street guys, they feel like they’re going to be burned in effigy,”

“What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?”

“People from Wall Street can deal with regulation, they deal with it all the time … I think it’s just the bashing that sort of drives them crazy.”

 Welcome to the machine, my friends. Now you know what it feels like.
After enduring two painful years being called a drag on the economy and being blamed for high taxes and low performance, teachers have been replaced in the national garbage can by, of all people, bankers, hedge fund managers and other wealthy people as the next heap of trash. I understand your outrage, brothers and sisters. After all, you're making seven times the salary of the average public school teacher, get a nice bonus at the end of the year, have better benefits and, until recently, were treated with reverence by the general population.

What happened?

The public found out that you might have had something to do with the housing bubble and the near meltdown of the banking system. They found out that your firms got bailouts while other workers got pink slips. Those who cheered in New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin when public workers lost all or part of their collective bargaining rights, were laid off or furloughed, and were forced to pay more in pension and benefits out of paychecks that hadn't grown relative to the cost of living in over 10 years have now figured out that maybe teachers cops and firefighters and the people who work at town hall were not the problem after all.

You're a symbol, and a very potent one at that. So if you're angry because now you're being held accountable for violations real or imagined, welcome to the club and get a thicker skin. I will never condone violence of any type and I will defend you if things get ugly, but it's time for you to realize that you are part of the problem.

It's also time to realize that the Dodd-Frank bill is a necessary remedy, and fighting against it will only make people angrier at you. Take it from me: I tried to tell legislators that collective bargaining is recognized by the state of New Jersey, but Governor Christie told me that I need to pay more to make up for bringing union propaganda into the classroom.

I do no such thing.

I was told by my governor that the association that has done more to raise the value of my profession than any politician save for Governor Tom Kean, the New Jersey Education Association, was full of corrupt thieves, which is also not true. Now the public is saying the same thing about Wall Street firms and banks, but the reality is that certain financial institutions did cause the problems we now have. So if you're concerned about what might happen next, you're in good company.

We are all teachers now. We all have to fight against the forces that are trying to divide us with false accusations of class warfare, broken promises and sadly ineffective policies based on tax cuts, tax hikes, benefit reductions, higher prices, $5 fees, more drilling, less regulation, and calls for "shared sacrifice" from people who plan on doing no such thing in their own lives. Workers of all income levels need to band together to make this country a better place. Let's start now.

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